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Quantum Computing Understanding Required for Industry to Grow

Nov 12, 2020

A recent article in Physics magazine addressed the need for better education in quantum physics for university students. The author, Katherine Wright, interviewed scientists and educators who explained just how outdated most undergraduate and even graduate-level courses are in this field. One educator explained that typical quantum physics courses are based on content from physics of the early 1900s, rather than advances that have come during the last 10 years.

Indeed, quantum computing companies are scrambling to find qualified employees, as both established and start-up companies are seeking to fill posts.

A new study conducted by quantum physicists at the University of Colorado, Boulder dug into exactly what companies are seeking in new hires in this fledgling, but rapidly expanding, field.

Rather than focused only on graduates with deep knowledge of quantum physics, companies are most interested in job candidates who are “quantum aware,” meaning they understand the broad concepts behind quantum computing and can discuss them with relative ease. Their findings should be encouraging to students who are intrigued with the field of quantum computing, yet fear they lack sufficient hard-core knowledge. And beyond scientists, quantum computing companies need people to fill posts in sales, marketing, IT and more. Just being quantum-aware can make these individuals qualified.

The Physics article mentioned that “101” courses, with very basic quantum physics information, are now available at the University of Colorado and it is hoped these basic courses will catch on elsewhere. Another industry expert noted that introducing quantum physics at the high school level would be a tremendous way to generate early interest, leading to careers in quantum computing.

Perhaps the most intriguing thinking comes from Chris Ferrie, a renowned quantum physics professor at the University of Technology Sydney and Centre for Quantum Software and Information. Ferrie has taken this thought to another realm – teaching babies!

Ferrie is the author of dozens of children’s books on scientific topics, all aimed at instilling very early interest. His board book Quantum Physics for Babies may sound like a farce, but it is an international best seller. Ferrie explains his interest in writing children’s science books which also includes Quantum Computing for Babies: “It is never too early to introduce children to the wild and wonderful world of science!”

One company in quantum computing, Q-CTRL, has just hired Ferrie as the firm’s Quantum Education Advisor. Q-CTRL is a startup based in Australia with U.S. offices in Los Angeles that applies the principles of control engineering to accelerate the development of quantum technology.

Ferrie, who will continue his university position, will lead content development for a highly interactive educational software Q-CTRL package designed to help non-experts begin their journey in quantum computing. He will work on Q-CTRL’s BLACK OPAL 2.0, which is a major update to this software, designed to help beginners achieve greater performance and results in this early era of error-prone and unstable quantum computers.

By enlisting the expertise of a writer who produces educational scientific books for babies and toddlers, Q-CTRL has demonstrated the urgent need to help adults navigate the complex topics involved in quantum computing.

By Hilary Kaye